The NBC Today program offered an inane segment labeled “Eat This, Cure That.”
It was formulaic and overly simplistic. The anchor and a guest walked behind tables of food displays and quickly told viewers about the wonders of the various items on display.
What’s wrong with that approach? The segment provided no time get into details about the quality of the evidence behind the claims – so, instead, viewers were told about foods that – broadly – can “cure and even prevent illness.” But not one shred of evidence was provided.
The segment stated that eating one cup of black beans can help ease migraine pain. Viewers should be given some data to back that up.
They were told that eating sunflower seeds can lower the risk of cold or flu by 20%. Again, evidence please. What studies? In how many people?
And people who were about to give a big speech were told to eat red peppers. How many red peppers? How far in advance before speaking? Where’s the evidence for this stuff?
All of these claims may have some scientific basis, but the certainty of the language – “cure…prevent…lower risk…ease pain…help soothe” – is too certain and too sweeping for a 3-minute TV segment.
TV doesn’t educate anyone when it rushes through such topics, dumbing down any scientific evidence that does exist and misleading viewers about the true quality of the evidence.